Meg Munn MP outlines the Co-operative Schools Bill she is introducing in Parliament today

Meg Munn MP: why I'm bringing forward the Co-operative Schools Bill

Co-operative Schools

Later this afternoon, I will rise in the Commons to introduce the Co-operative Schools Bill.

It is a landmark in the extraordinary story of co-operative education, a movement that has hugely expanded in just a few years since the Co-operative College and Labour’s then education ministers embarked on this journey. 450 co-operative schools are now operating.

In Co-operative Trust schools, everyone – teachers, parents, pupils and the local community – work together for mutual benefit. Performance improves; pupils learn and are more engaged with the life of the school.

The local community has a say in how the school - a state school - is run, and with a commitment to equality and equity everyone is helped to be the best they can.

Read more about Co-op Schools by Mervyn Wilson of the Co-operative College

In opposition, David Cameron said he supported co-operative schools.

However there is no sign that this has been attempted. Academies have become the centre piece of education policy. Nor has the free-schools policy led to a new generation of parent-owned co-operatives – to date just one of the free schools is expected to operate as a co-operative.

At the moment there is no provision in the relevant acts for co-operative schools. They have to work around the existing legislation in a clumsy and confusing way.

So the first clause of my very short Bill seeks to amend Education Acts to include these legal forms and so ensure a level playing field with other school structures.

Nursery schools are in many ways the most naturally co-operative part of the education sector with their engagement with parents and carers.Consequently clause 2 of my bill would enable nursery schools to be established as school trusts.

Read more about the Bill 

I believe co-operative schools are very well placed not only to ensure high standards of education, but also to teach children that the values of co-operation have a great deal to offer.

Find out more about how teaching union NASUWT and others are supporting the Bill

In the words of Pat McGovern, headteacher at Helston Community College, “The last thing the people of Cornwall want is to see a big education chain coming in to run school services and take money out of the area. … Our co-operative is about a mutual solution to local needs.”

The education system should always be based on support, collaboration and co-operation at every level.

Meg Munn MP
Labour & Co-operative MP, Sheffield Heeley

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